Author Archives: conor

Picket on Monday, December 9th

Dear Democracy Advocates,

Art Pope, owner of the Roses and Maxway stores and Gov. McCrory’s Budget Director, is the poster child of what one extremely wealthy individual can do to twist an entire state’s public policy in a racially divisive, ultra-conservative direction. Read more here.

Worse, Pope literally depends on the black community to finance his political operation; African-American shoppers at his stores supply a large share of his income, which he then uses to promote policies that keep them too poor to shop elsewhere. In reality, he’s a poverty creator more than a job creator. See our new handout here.

Many of his workers are also trapped – they’re paid less than a living wage, with few benefits, and they wind up relying on public assistance to support their families. In reality, Pope’s business is heavily subsidized by government funds, yet he uses his profits to promote an elitist, anti-government agenda – against voting rights, against public education, against campaign reform.

That’s why Democracy North Carolina is joining the NAACP and other members of the Forward Together Movement to coordinate educational pickets near Pope-owned stores (Roses, Maxway, etc.) across the state during the Holiday Season.

Organize or Attend a Picket Near You

Check out the list of planned pickets below and RSVP to let us know which picket you hope to attend. We can then follow up with more details.

If you don’t see an event near you on the list below, then organize one yourself! Let us know if you are interested and we will send you a local organizer’s kit and help with local media outreach and publicity.

REMEMBER: We are not calling for a boycott of Pope-owned stores at this time. These are informational pickets only!

Upcoming Educational Pickets (partial list)

Monday 12/9: Durham (4pm)
Wednesday 12/11: Charlotte (11am)
Friday 12/13: Goldsboro
Saturday 12/14: Winston-Salem (11am), Fayetteville (1pm), and Belmont (12 noon)


Grandparent’s Day Op-Ed

On Grandparents Day, Let’s All Promise Not to Be the Last Generation to Retire

By Heather McLaughlin & Helen Davis

As grandmother and granddaughter we hope that this year’s Grandparents Day – September 8th – can inspire different generations to have a conversation about retirement security. We must address a coming shortage of long term care providers and work together to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Long term care (LTC) includes a wide array of medical and non-medical care to people who have a chronic illness or disability over an extended period of time. A growing number of Baby Boomers will soon be seeking long term care services, and almost every American family will have to decide what services they need and can afford. Medicaid is the country’s largest public payer for LTC accounting for 40% of all services delivered. If you are not Medicaid-eligible, you are responsible for covering most of the cost of LTC.

Additionally, Medicare covers a part of LTC costs.  It covers some home health, skilled nursing, and hospice care.  However, Medicare is meant for short-term treatment, and is not intended to be a LTC program.  Medicare will cover a limited stay in a nursing home if an individual has been in the hospital for at least three of the last 30 days. That is why it is so disheartening to hear of politicians who want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. When faced with this situation, many individuals turn to their families for help or tap into the retirement savings.

Social Security, another program vital for older Americans, is one of America’s greatest success stories.  For 78 years, it has helped retirees stay healthy and out of poverty. But Social Security is important to more than just seniors.  Social Security helps workers who suffer career-ending injuries and illness, as well as children who have lost a parent.

Social Security has not added a penny to our deficit.  It is fully paid for by worker and employer payroll taxes. The talk of greater life expectancy (and the assumption that you should spend those extra years at work!) is misleading.  A lower infant mortality rate has raised overall life expectancy, but it has remained nearly the same once people enter adulthood.  In fact, any gains that have been made have been almost exclusively for the highest income and education levels, not for the physically-demanding blue collar and service sector workers who would suffer terribly if the retirement age were increased to 70, as some in politics have suggested.

The average retiree on Social Security receives $1200 per month.  If people think the government spends too much, they should not criticize these modest Social Security benefits retirees paid for throughout their working years, but rather tax breaks for big corporations.

Sen. Tom Harkin’s bill, called the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, S. 567, would require the establishment of a price index that accurately reflects costs for Social Security beneficiaries, among other improvements. Called the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), this alternative would be used when computing increases in cost of living adjustments and would consider typical seniors’ costs, including medical care and housing costs, to ensure that seniors’ Social Security benefits keep pace with inflation.

Politicians and pundits try to pit one generation against the other to advance their own agendas.  This is insulting because it assumes people only care about themselves and others their own age.  People are better than that, and in 2013, life is more complicated than that.  Generations are more intertwined than ever before.

While it often seems like we live in complicated, fractious times, we still believe that more unites us than divides us.  Regardless of when and where we were born, or what we do each day, we all want to live a healthy, secure life and enjoy dignity and peace of mind.  While September 8 may be officially known as Grandparents Day, we hope it is a day that brings generations together to improve the lives of people of all ages. Let’s not be the last generation to retire.

Heather McLaughlin is a Consultant with NC Alliance for Retired Americans & Helen Davis is her 90 year old Grandmother.

Happy 75th Anniversary to Social Security

For Planning Purposes
August 3, 2010
Contact: Laura Wickwar (919)621-3613 or

Happy 75th Anniversary to Social Security

Smithfield — On Wed., August 4, 2010, at 10:00am, Johnston County seniors and members of the Alliance for Retired Americans will gather at the Johnston Health Medical Mall, 514 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. in Smithfield to celebrate with a Social Security Senior Round Table and Anniversary Party. Honored speakers include Congressman Bob Etheridge, 2nd US District, NC Representative Leo Daughtry, NC District 26, and Mr. Michael Dawkins, District Manager of the Social Security Office in Smithfield. Following the Roundtable, we will celebrate with cake and refreshments.

Similar events will be taking place all across the country throughout this week and next highlighting the truth about Social Security – that it belongs to the people who worked hard all their lives and contributed to it, and that it is a promise that must not be broken. Some in Washington, including a new federal commission on deficit reduction, have recently suggested either cutting Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age as a way to “fix” the deficit.

Social Security benefits 1,631,300 people, more than 1 out of 6 residents, in North Carolina and pumps $20.5 billion per year, an amount equivalent to 5 percent of the state’s annual GDP, into the North Carolina economy.

NC Alliance President John Newman said, “We will gather tomorrow to celebrate the good works of Social Security and to wish it many more happy years. More than ever, North Carolina workers and retirees need to know Social Security will be there for them.”

WHO:     Alliance for Retired Americans members and activists with U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, NC Rep. Leo Daughtry, Mr. Michael Dawkins, District Manager of the Social Security Office in Smithfield

WHAT:     Social Security Senior Round Table and Anniversary Party

WHERE:     Johnston Health Medical Mall, 514 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. in Smithfield, NC

WHEN:     Wed., August 4, 2010, at 10:00am


Alliance Members Get the Chance to Ask President Obama Questions

Alliance Members Get the Chance to Ask President Obama Questions
At a special event on Tuesday, June 8, Alliance members are invited to ask the President health care questions by telephone.  A few members of the Alliance will be attending the event – which will include information on benefits for seniors under the new health care law – live, in Wheaton, Maryland. Other members are invited to ask the President questions by phone.  The special number Alliance members can call to talk to President Obama is: 800-837-1935, Passcode 80272058.  This one-time, national “tele-town hall” can also be seen and heard on television by watching C-SPAN, or on-line at  If you live in one of the following communities and would like to join a local watch party, please contact us at  Dubuque, Des Moines, and Waterloo, Iowa; Suitland and White Plains, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Raleigh, North Carolina; Ashtabula, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbia, South Carolina.  In addition, several of our allied unions are taking leadership roles and sponsoring events, including one in Las Vegas sponsored by the International Union of Painters and Allied trades.  The AFT event in upstate New York is not happening.  The live events are scheduled to begin at 11:15 AM Eastern Time on Tuesday and will last about an hour.  The President will also be joined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. Topics to be covered will include the $250 checks for seniors caught in the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” coverage gap, and efforts to combat scams associated with those checks.

HHS Buys Time for Senate to Address the “Doc Fix”
While the U.S. House of Representatives managed to pass a bill that delayed the scheduled Medicare reimbursement cuts to physicians, the Senate did not pass a similar bill.  This allowed the 21 percent cuts to go into effect on June 1st, leaving lawmakers to scramble for solutions.  Fortunately, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that it will be holding all payments to doctors for the next two weeks in order to buy Congress a little more time to pass a bill.  The Senate, however, is not scheduled to deal with the ‘Doc Fix’ until June 7th at the earliest, causing many to call on congressional leadership to reprioritize their agenda in order to pass this critical measure as soon as possible.  “The ‘Doc Fix’ provision must pass the Senate in a timely and efficient manner, as the quality of care that Medicare beneficiaries receive is currently in jeopardy,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  For detailed tallies of the House’s votes to approve the “doc fix” and unemployment benefits last Friday, go to and  The original bill was supposed to extend COBRA benefits and Federal Medicaid assistance to the states as well, but those provisions were not included in the House votes.  AFSCME has offered use of its hotline (888) 340-6521 for calls to the Senate regarding these issues.  Callers using this line are prompted with a message to urge senators to “avoid cuts to Medicaid and jobs” to help the economy.  By entering your zip code, you are then connected to your senators’ offices.

Alliance Members in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Hear from the President, Sebelius
On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Firing back at his critics, President Obama stated that his economic policy “prevented a global depression” and helped out ailing middle class families.  Alliance members Maxine Yancey, Marie Malagreca, Ed Pace, Teresa Findlay, Marge Lindquist, and Carol Coultas were all in attendance for this primetime speech.  Alliance members also joined Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Ron Kind (WI), Governor Jim Doyle (WI), and Rep. Tim Walz (MN) at a health care forum for seniors yesterday in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  “Secretary Sebelius warned seniors that Medicare fraud is imminent, stating that the best protection is to double check with an authoritative figure before giving away any personal information,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

New on the Alliance Website
The most recent fact sheets and scam alerts are posted on the Alliance web site.  A doughnut hole update at explains that scammers offering to “help” seniors get their $250 rebate are up to no good, as it comes automatically (beginning June 10th). Other new fact sheets – regarding the new health law, a long-term care brief and advice on what to tell health reform skeptics, are available for download here:  For a report on the second fiscal commission meeting last Wednesday, click on Finally, daily news clips regarding retiree issues can also be found under “Must-Reads” on the main page.

Alliance Member Inducted into Senior Citizens Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Bob Haase, a member of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, on being inducted into the Milwaukee County Seniors Citizen Hall of Fame.  As a member of the Alliance, Haase has led lobbying efforts to improve Social Security and Medicare, increase County funding for senior programs, and help make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.  Haase was honored at a community-wide ceremony held last Friday in Milwaukee.

Alliance Friend Rue McClanahan Dies
Actress Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche on “The Golden Girls” television series and starred on Broadway, passed away from a stroke on Thursday at the age of 76.  Ms. McClanahan lent her voice to the Alliance for Retired Americans in 2004 for automated telephone calls to members in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, encouraging them to return their vote by mail applications, and also did other work with the Alliance in 2006.  Rest in Peace, Rue!

Did You Know…
Eleven states will be holding primaries this Tuesday, June 8: Arkansas, including a Democratic Senate run-off; California; Iowa; Maine; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; North Dakota; South Carolina; South Dakota; and Virginia.

Retirees Celebrate Crist Victory

For Immediate Release

Retirees Celebrate Critz Victory

Win Will Help Protect Social Security Benefits for Seniors
The following statement was issued by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to yesterday’s victory by Mark Critz in Pennsylvania:

“The Alliance for Retired Americans congratulates Mark Critz on a hard-fought victory last night in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.

New TV Ad: Critz on Side of PA Seniors

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2010

New TV Ad: Critz on Side of PA Seniors

A new television ad, which began airing today in Western Pennsylvania, lauds 12th congressional district candidate Mark Critz for his strong support for Social Security and lowering prescription drug costs for senior citizens.

To the view the ad, go to

The ad states that Mark Critz has signed a pledge to oppose privatizing Social Security, a major issue in this race.  Critz’ opponent, Republican Tim Burns, has been the recipient of several endorsements from political leaders who support a privatized Social Security run by Wall Street investment firms.

The 30-second spot, an independent expenditure by the Alliance for Retired Americans Political Action Fund, will run on a heavy ad buy during programming with large senior audiences across the 12th congressional district.

Below is a transcript of the ad:

Why are seniors across Western Pennsylvania voting Mark Critz for Congress?

Because Mark Critz alone signed the pledge not to privatize Social Security, so your retirement won’t be gambled away by Wall Street. Critz will make sure Medicare is sound and always there. And Mark Critz will fight for real relief for seniors through lower prescription drug costs.

On May 18th, stand with the Alliance for Retired Americans and Western Pennsylvania seniors. Vote Mark Critz for Congress.

The Alliance for Retired Americans Political Action Fund is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

# # #
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.


Contact:   David Blank (202) 637-5275 or

“Seniors have elected a real friend to Congress.  As the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform comes up with its recommendations, the Alliance looks forward to working with Mr. Critz on protecting Social Security.

New Health Reform Law Extends Election Period to Change Part D Plan

The new health reform law changes and extends the annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans.  Anyone interested in switching plans should keep in mind the new enrollment period is now October 15 – December 7.

Note that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides for a Special Enrollment Period for contract violation if a prescription drug plan (PDP) violated a provision of its contract under Part D in relation to the individual.  Violations include: failure to provide on a timely basis benefits available under the plan; failure to provide benefits in accordance with quality standards; or the PDP sponsor (or its agent) materially misrepresenting the PDP when marketing the PDP.  The enrollment period begins when CMS determines that a violation has occurred.

For other details on the new health reform bill, what it does, especially for seniors, and when provisions go into place, check out fact sheet here:

2010 Campaigns Heating Up: Retirees Must Know the Facts
Political developments in three states this week were a reminder of how retirees – expected to be the largest voting bloc this fall – must be well versed on the issues and where the candidates stand. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling traveled to Arkansas to endorse Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for the U.S. Senate and rebut television ads that falsely claim he supports Social Security privatization.  Noting that Halter ran the Social Security Administration under President Clinton and has consistently worked to help retirees, Easterling said, “Bill Halter is a great friend of Social Security and Medicare.  He is a great friend to seniors.”  Write-up here:

In the first U.S. House election since health reform was signed into law, voters in a heavily-senior Florida congressional district elected Democrat Ted Deutch by a 2-1 margin over his Republican opponent to fill a vacant seat.  In Missouri, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, criticized a provision in the new health law that prohibits adults from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  Video here:   In May, both Pennsylvania and Hawaii will be holding closely contested special elections to fill vacant U.S. House seats.  “More than ever, we must be a nation of politically savvy seniors,” Easterling commented.

CEO Pay at the Big Health Insurance Companies: Enough to Make You Sick
According to new data from the AFL-CIO

Health Care Reform: What’s in it for Seniors

The Senate-passed health care reform bill dramatically cleared the House on a 219-212 vote Sunday night, and President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.  Please see the Alliance’s Special Edition Friday Alert of March 23 at for more details of the related votes.  The reform phases out the doughnut hole gap in prescription drug coverage, providing a $250 rebate in 2010 for seniors who fall into the hole.  Beginning in 2011, seniors will receive a 50% percent discount on their prescription drugs when they fall into the doughnut hole, and by 2020 the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.  To see the Alliance’s one-page write-up listing provisions in the health reform law that will affect seniors, along with the time line for their implementation, go to  To summarize that document, the new law also:

  • Covers preventive services; in 2011, seniors in Medicare will receive free annual check-ups with no co-payments for mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings;
  • Supports early retiree coverage, providing financial assistance to employer health plans that cover early retirees;
  • Encourages doctors to coordinate care and improve quality, creating incentives for providers to work together and reduce wasteful care like repeated tests;
  • Removes obstacles to changing Part D prescription drug plans, allowing Part D enrollees to make a mid-year change in their enrollment if their plan makes an unexpected change;
  • Expands the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, which will significantly help struggling seniors afford their health care costs;
  • Enacts the CLASS Act, creating a new, voluntary long term care insurance plan;
  • Enacts the Elder Justice Act, authorizing new criminal background checks on long-term care workers who have access to residents or patients; and
  • Eliminates wasteful overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans while creating incentives for coordinated, high quality care across the health care spectrum, extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 9 years and improving Medicare for generations to come.

For a listing of which changes take effect immediately, go to  In short – in addition to the doughnut hole changes – within the next six months alone, the new law:

  • Provides a $5 billion reinsurance fund to help employers who provide health benefits to early retirees ages 55 to 64 (goes into effect in 90 days);
  • Eliminates pre-existing conditions for non-dependent children up to age 26;
  • Prohibits insurers from placing lifetime limits on coverage;
  • Restricts new plans’ annual limits on coverage;
  • Provides $5 billion to states to create a high risk insurance pool for those denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions and who have been without insurance for 6 months;
  • Prohibits rescission, or dropping coverage, when individuals become sick;
  • Creates a public health and wellness fund and requires new private insurance plans to offer preventive services without co-payments;
  • Provides up to 35 % tax credits to small business that offer health care coverage; and
  • Creates a new and independent health insurance appeals process for consumers

A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 49% of those polled concluded that the passage was “a good thing,” as compared to 40% who concluded its passage was “a bad thing.”  Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, urged seniors to thank Members of Congress who helped to pass reform with personal visits to their offices during the spring district work period, March 29 – April 9.  “Thank you again to seniors who worked for decades to pass health reform.  Now, let’s give House Members who voted courageously for health care reform in the face of violence some words of appreciation, in person or in writing,” said Mr. Coyle.  To see the video of Alliance member Bob Meeks of Brandon, FL and Mr. Coyle on the importance of closing the Medicare drug doughnut hole, go to

Misinformation has been spread on how the health care reform will affect veterans’ care.  The health care bill provides protections for veterans and the health care they have earned through their service.  President Obama has strongly supported a 16% budget increase in 2010 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest in over 30 years.  “TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Defense’s military health care program, will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Senate, House Pass Final Health Care Reconciliation Bill
The Senate passed the final piece of the health care package on Thursday, 56-43, and sent it back to the House, after Republicans identified two minor violations of reconciliation rules that forced changes to a provision on student loans.  For a tally of that vote, go to   Three Democrats voted against the bill: Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. In total, 29 Senate amendments were easily rejected, meaning that the health-care package survived essentially intact.  The House approved the Senate’s reconciliation bill later on Thursday, 220-207 ( ).

Twelve Days Until the National Convention in Las Vegas
On Monday, April 5, Alliance members will be able to personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for shepherding health reform through the Senate.  On that day, Reid will address the Alliance’s 2010 national convention in Las Vegas.  Other speakers will include AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), and the Honorable Hilda Solis.  The theme for the April 5-8 convention is “Building Retiree Power.”  To register, go to .

Note: Due to Good Friday, the next Friday Alert will be published on Thursday, April 1, 2010.

$250 Payment to Social Security Recipients Voted Down By Senate


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lost a bid on Wednesday to boost the income of millions of Social Security recipients and offset the elimination of the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2010.  His amendment calling for $13 billion to fund a one-time, $250 payment to seniors, veterans, and the disabled needed 60 votes to pass, but failed 47-50.  For a tally of the vote, go to  The amendment was to be attached to legislation that would extend jobless benefits and COBRA health care subsidies.  There will be no COLA this year due to low inflation.  Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “The purchasing needs of seniors are unique, and often include medications needed to stay alive.  We insist that the Senate realize the importance of this $250 payment to struggling retirees.”  Sen. Sanders also said that the fight for the measure, which President Obama included in his budget, would continue.

Obama Calls for Reconciliation in Order to Pass Health Care Reform Quickly
In a health care speech by Barack Obama on Wednesday, the President called for an “up or down vote” that would leave Republicans unable to kill the bill through a filibuster.  The current Democratic plan is to have the House vote to approve the already-passed Senate bill, plus fixes, then have the Senate pass these fixes through reconciliation.  Under this scenario, only a simple majority in the Senate, rather than a super-majority of 60 votes, would be needed to pass health reform.  The President stated that he wants action within a few weeks, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) call for an informal deadline of March 18.  Despite Republican criticism that a decision to bar the filibuster would be “met with outrage” by the public, Democrats shot back with claims that the same rules had been used five times during George W. Bush’s administration.  The Obama White House is still working to include bipartisan measures, and announced that they were exploring GOP proposals that include additional crackdowns on fraudulent medical charges and new rules for medical malpractice suits.  “We can’t just quit,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix a health care system that is not benefiting millions of Americans, including many seniors.”

Alan Simpson Strikes at Seniors, Social Security, and Medicare
Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson sat down with the CNBC television network last week to discuss his post as co-chair of the President’s Fiscal Commission on the national debt.  Throughout the conversation, he leveled several attacks against seniors and senior advocacy organizations, accusing them of not caring “a whit about their grandchildren

Response to President’s Health Care Plan and Summit: Three Things You Can Do

In order to bridge the differences between the U.S. House and Senate-passed health care bills – and continue to move reform forward – President Obama unveiled his Administration’s own health plan on Monday.  The plan contains several major steps toward improving the well-being of current and future retirees.  “President Obama’s plan recognizes the millions of seniors who are struggling to afford to see a doctor or get a prescription filled,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.  “For retirees, continued inaction would be devastating.  Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs would soon eat up more than one-third of a retiree’s Social Security benefits.”  For the Alliance’s comparison of Obama’s health reform bill with those passed by the U.S House and Senate, go to  On Thursday, President Obama led a televised health care reform summit, which focused on discussing ideas and grievances about the proposed health care bill from both parties.  White House officials named 21 lawmakers the president wanted to attend the summit: the top leaders in the House and Senate and of the committees with jurisdiction over the health legislation.  Obama also invited the top four leaders to invite four more lawmakers each, bringing the total to 37; 20 Democrats and 17 Republicans. For a specific list of the attendees, go to  As a follow-up to the summit, concerned senior activists are encouraged to do 3 things:

  1. Contact your U.S. House member and two Senators by calling 202-224-3121.  Tell them that President Obama’s proposal would close the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in Medicare Part D; finally end the $3.60 per month every senior pays in higher premiums to subsidize the big insurance corporations that run Medicare Advantage; and make long-term care more affordable for middle-class families.
  2. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper reiterating the need for reform.  You may find it helpful to use the language at as a guide; and
  3. Share Alliance materials like the comparison chart above and the fact sheet at with your friends and neighbors.

Further evidence of the need for reform came last Friday, with the release of a study by a major consulting firm showing that spiraling costs are a problem even for seniors with solid insurance.  The Avalere Health study found that premiums for private Medicare Advantage plans offering medical and prescription drug coverage jumped 14.2% on average for 2010.  Some 8.5 million seniors and disabled Americans who signed up for the private plans will therefore be facing sharp premium increases this year, following an increase of 5.2% last year.

More Debt Commission Appointees Named
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday appointed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to serve on the President’s fiscal panel tasked with developing a plan to bring down the $12.3 trillion national debt.  The President said that the commission can consider everything, including new taxes, spending cuts and changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, in order to reach his goal of balancing the federal budget except for debt interest payments by 2015.  Obama is asking Congress to consider the panel’s recommendations.  Obama will appoint six people to the 18-member panel and up to four can come from the same party.  Leaders in Congress will choose the other 12 members, with three coming from the Republican and Democratic caucus in each chamber.  Reid is the first congressional leader to announce his picks.  The majority leader said that he would make sure that the panel’s recommendations, which are non-binding, receive votes in the Senate.  Both Baucus and Conrad are noted centrists, a group of lawmakers that has made debt and deficit issues a priority.  Obama last week selected former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) to head the panel.  Today, the president named former Clinton White House budget director Alice Rivlin; Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern; former Young & Rubicam Brands CEO Ann Fudge; and Honeywell CEO and Chairman David Cote to fill remaining slots, an administration official said.  “I would like to say to the panel: Social Security’s long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments, and without cutting benefits,” stressed Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  To see the Alliance’s latest document on Social Security, which refutes opponents’ charges that today’s budget problems are due to Social Security, go to

Requests for Heating Assistance Rise By 15%
As the winter wears on, the number of households applying for home heating assistance has risen to record levels for the third straight year, rising by 15% to include 8.8 million households.  The majority of these applicants are low-income seniors, disabled people, and families living beneath the federal poverty line.  Under LIHEAP (the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program), states provide grants of about $500; however, due to increased demand, many states have had to cut the grants or applications to stretch funds, leaving many in the lurch.  “While several states forbid the cut-off of utilities during the winter, struggling retirees often put off payments and build up debt,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.  “In the spring, seniors may find themselves lacking gas and electricity as companies seek payment.”

Sign Up By March 2 to Get Special Room Rate for the Las Vegas Convention!
As 2010 political campaigns heat up, retirees need to begin learning more about elections that will see the entire U.S. House, one-third of the U.S. Senate, and 36 gubernatorial races on the November ballot.  A great place to start is this year’s Alliance National Convention, April 5-8 in Las Vegas, which will feature noted speakers and training workshops on mobilizing retirees for electoral success.  Alliance members will elect a president and secretary-treasurer, and community members will elect six community-based board members.  Hotel reservations must be made by contacting Bally’s Las Vegas directly at 1-800-358-8777.  To guarantee the low room rate of $89, you must make your hotel reservation by March 2, 2010.  To register for the convention itself, please go to